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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 02, 2017 1:00 am

Elliott just misses 1st Cup win

DAN GELSTON | Associated Press

Top 5

Finishers

1. Ky. Busch Toyota

2. Elliott Chevrolet

3. Johnson Chevrolet

4. Truex Jr Toyota

5.Larson Chevrolet

Points

1. Truex 3,059

2. Ky. Busch 3,041

3. Larson 3,034

4. Keselowski 3,020

5. Johnson 3,017

DOVER, Del. – Chase Elliott rubbed his head and leaned against his car, crestfallen as he replayed the final laps in his mind. Jimmie Johnson, his champion teammate, walked over to offer some encouragement and let Elliott vent.

“I anticipated them being cuss words,” Johnson said, “and they were.”

Elliott had it, the first win in 70 career Cup starts in his sight, the white flag about to drop.

But the son of a NASCAR Hall of Fame driver simply could not find his way out of a thicket of traffic.

Kyle Busch spoiled Elliott's bid at his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory, taking the lead with two laps left to win Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Elliott was in stunned disbelief that he let the lead slip away.

“I'm just so disappointed in myself,” Elliott said. “Golly. I couldn't have had it any easier. I gave it away.”

Busch, the 2015 Cup champion, went high on the concrete track and zipped past Elliott to win for the second straight week, his fourth victory of the season.

He is streaking at the right time as NASCAR's playoffs head into the second round.

Busch took his customary bow.

He injected a ho-hum race with a thrilling finish and perhaps the best two closing laps of the season.Busch is 24 points behind fellow Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. for the points lead and was already safely in the field of 12.

“As far as Chase get out there, I wasn't sure I'd run him back down,” Busch said. “The only thing Chase could have done differently was just move around and try and to get out of the wave of the cars that were in front of him. I was actually surprised he didn't.”

Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch and Brickyard 400 winner Kasey Kahne were eliminated as the playoff field was cut from 16 drivers.

Elliott was second, followed by Johnson, Truex and Kyle Larson.

Elliott followed in some superstar footsteps when he made his Cup debut in 2015. Bill Elliott was a two-time Daytona 500 champion and was named NASCAR's most popular driver a record 16 times. Chase Elliott also took over the No. 24 Chevrolet when four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon retired.

Gordon attended the race and exchanged words with Newman on pit road. Newman, who finished a lap down in 13th, was one of the drivers that held up Elliott down the stretch and contributed to his collapse.